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Falcons look for boost in productivity from defensive line


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Falcons look for boost in productivity from defensive line

By KEN SUGIURA

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/...ost-134130.html

Each day this week, the AJC will take a look at a different aspect of the Falcons for the upcoming season. Today: Defensive line.

Flowery Branch — Mike Smith can say this much with certainty about his defensive line.

John Abraham, his Pro Bowl-caliber defensive end, will start. The rest is a little less clear.

“In terms of the other guys, it is going to be a matter of how the competition plays out,” the Falcons coach said. “It could change from week to week and from day to day.”

As was the case last season, the Falcons plan to use plenty of legs on the defensive line. The team kept nine defensive linemen on the 53-man roster and might use eight in a game.

“Whether a guy is a starter or whether a guy is a backup, the way we do things with our defensive line, all of those guys will play,” Smith said. “Just like John Abraham is a starter, but John only plays about 40 snaps a game. We are going to make sure that we keep our guys as fresh as possible up front.”

It helped the Falcons stay competitive on defense last season. They were 28th in yards per rush, 17st in yards per pass attempt and 24th in overall yards per play. However, they were 11th in scoring and 13th in third-down conversion rate. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said the defense wants to finish in the top 10 of yards allowed.

Keeping a rotation that spreads out snaps and keeps players rested will help, he said.

“I think it’s going to work out real good. We’ve got a lot of speed on defense,” defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said. “Everybody on the rotation is a speedy guy that can get in there and do their job and keep everybody fresh throughout the game. That’s the object of it, to have us fresh for the fourth quarter.”

There are risks in trading the size of 345-pound defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who left as a free agent, for the speed of first-round pick Peria Jerry, who weighs 290.

“They did a lot of line stunts, which can be good if it works, but you can also get gashed,” said NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, who called three of the Falcons’ exhibition games for WXIA. “You almost have to be a perfect fit every play with linebackers and safeties. They got gashed a little bit in the preseason, and they had a hard time containing quarterbacks.”

Defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder have some players who need their to coaching. Among the tackles taking Jackson’s place are the rookie Jerry, Trey Lewis, who played nine games as a rookie in 2007 but missed all of last season with an injury, and Thomas Johnson, whose most recent NFL action was in 2006.

Jerry, for instance, has realized much detail is involved in the pro game.

It is “just a lot different than college, where you just go out and beat a guy,” Jerry said. “You really have to study your opponent.”

Two of the ends are rookie Lawrence Sidbury and second-year man Kroy Biermann.

Jackson, who signed with the Lions, was a “very productive guy in the middle that can take on two (linemen) and split two and still make the play in the backfield,” Babineaux said. “I miss the big fella, but we’ve got a lot of young guys that love to compete and get after guys.”

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I'd say 2 sacks to be realistic. Miami only gave up 24 sacks all of last year. 2 sacks may be a reach as well because Pennington will make quick throws (he's not really a deep ball passer). The key will not be sacks but just pressure to throw off their timing routes. I would love to see just once Houston jam his guy at the line & then watch a pass drop into the turf where the WR would've been if the timing had not been thrown off. Quit playing 5 yards off your guy & getting burned every time.

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I hope, but the secondary has to cover at least 2.5 seconds or not much dline can do.

That is why Bryan William's speed does not bother me.

If we are planning to blitz aggressively per the pre-season ... a skilled cornerback should be able to buy that much time. That is why physicality is so important at the position ... and why Smith was giving his CBs an earful.

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That is why Bryan William's speed does not bother me.

If we are planning to blitz aggressively per the pre-season ... a skilled cornerback should be able to buy that much time. That is why physicality is so important at the position ... and why Smith was giving his CBs an earful.

Count on us blitzing a lot less in the regular season.

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If Jerry weighs 290lbs then Obama is a capitalist.

I'm not buying 290 either, but the second part is just ********. Being a self-made millionaire is pretty darn capitalistic.

Anyway, good article and I hope we can find a rusher to get some pressure and cut Abraham some slack. I'm predicting Sidbury develops into a full-time starter opposite Abe by mid-season.

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I'm not buying 290 either, but the second part is just ********. Being a self-made millionaire is pretty darn capitalistic.

Anyway, good article and I hope we can find a rusher to get some pressure and cut Abraham some slack. I'm predicting Sidbury develops into a full-time starter opposite Abe by mid-season.

There are many self-proclaimed socialists that are wealthy ... Ted Turner being one of them (not to mention most Democrats in DC).

I did not know being a community organizer paid so well though? Maybe writing about being one does ... with the free media hype ;)

Jerry was 299 at both his pro day and combine ... and he lost weight to get there ... Smith refers to Jerry as 305 which looks about right to me.

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